Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Revitalization in weak real estate markets

I have a hard time reading a lot of the smart growth etc. blather about how to do revitalization based on people's very recent experiences in DC--recent defined as the last few years, since 2004-2006--because DC (and Brooklyn) are outliers nationally in terms of cities that have gone through post WWII decline, and are coming back.

Most other cities have a much harder time and the proscriptions are harder to realize and take even longer. And in DC it took about 25 years after the first opening of the subway system before you could really start to see positive revitalization energy deriving from transit access and proximity. But these days DC is one of the strongest real estate markets in the world, and in the U.S. In most U.S. cities, there is minimal population in-migration--most center cities continue to shrink--and limited amounts of new construction.

These are two photos of the 1800 block of Centre Avenue in Pittsburgh's Hill District, from 1930 and today, from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's "Storefront Project." (Current photo byRebecca Droke of the PPG; historic photo from the University of Pittsburgh.) Tell me "experts" based on your very recent in DC experience, what would you do there?

photo21800 block of Centre Avenue in the Hill District circa 193

1800 block of Centre Avenue in the Hill District, today

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